PADUCAH, KY (12/18/12) – The McCracken County Sheriff’s Department has released the following updated press release regarding the local threat at McCracken County Schools.
Detectives were finally able to obtain the name of the author of the letter today at approximately 11:00 a.m. after the Paducah Sun contacted the sheriff’s department stating that the author and others familiar with the letter agreed to meet with law enforcement.
Interviews were conducted throughout the afternoon and evening with several different individuals as investigators identified those implicated in the letter that was sent to the Paducah Sun. Detectives determined that the writer of the letter was a 17-year-old student that wrote the letter on behalf and at the direction of a teacher at the school. The teacher was identified and stated she had received the information from another teacher that allegedly had received a report from two students that had overheard a conversation between two additional students, about “bombs” in class.
The teacher convinced the student to type the letter and sign it, so that she could mail it to the Paducah Sun. The teachers’ reason for writing the letter was that she was in fear that nothing was going to be done about the threats that she was told about.
After these findings were determined a meeting was held with McCracken County School Officials along with McCracken County School Resource Officers at approximately 16:00 on Tuesday afternoon.
Detectives disclosed the findings to school officials so that the identity of the remaining witnesses could be obtained. It was not until this time that school officials and school resource officers informed detectives that this was the same threat that had been brought to their attention on Thursday December 12, 2012. Their investigation revealed that same day that there was clearly no threat at all and what the students were talking about was a video game called “Mine Craft” which involves placing bombs and blowing up buildings as a way of collecting points. Both of these students cooperated fully with the investigation. Partial segments of their conversations were what the two reporting students overheard and were unintentionally misunderstood. School officials along with school resource officers investigated and unequivocally were able to determine that there was never a threat towards the school or students.
It was impossible for school officials or law enforcement to know this was the same threat that had already been investigated and cleared six days ago, due to not having the information that had been requested as to whom the author of the letter was.
Had investigators been able to obtain the identity of the author of this letter sooner, this investigation would have been concluded much sooner.
“An excerpt of the letter is as follows: But we have a student, someone who sits in class with us, who has brought weapons twice and most recently plotted a map of bomb and gun attack sites around the school area. Based on this statement in the letter, law enforcement and school officials believed that there was a possible imminent threat that deserved some decisive action. Had investigators been provided contact information sooner, this incident could have been cleared up much quicker.”
All Information provided by Sheriff Jon Hayden
ORIGINAL ARTICLEMCCRACKEN COUNTY, KY (12/18/12) – The following information was released today by the McCracken County Sheriff's Department.
Monday morning December 17, 2012 at approximately 10:00AM, the McCracken County Sheriff’s Department was contacted by a reporter with the Paducah Sun stating that a letter that contained a serious threat was sent to the newspaper’s editor concerning Reidland High School. According to Sheriff’s Office officials, when officers requested the letter, as well as the authors name and phone number which was attached to the letter, the request was denied, citing ethical obligations to protect the newspapers sources.
Law Enforcement then requested, and was granted, a meeting with Duke Conover, the Executive Editor of the Paducah Sun at about 1:00 PM. The need for the letter, its author and contact information so that a thorough and immediate investigation could be conducted was explained to the editor, whom again denied the request stating ethical obligations on the newspapers part to protect its sources. At approximately 4:30 PM, another request was made to the newspaper from the McCracken County Attorney’s Office. At this point, the newspaper agreed to turn over the letter, but refused to provide the authors name or contact information.
Additional requests were made from the McCracken County Commonwealth Attorney Dan Boaz.
Sheriff’s Office officials, the McCracken County Commonwealth Attorney Dan Boaz, Assistant County Attorneys Sam Clymer and Meridith Oliver met with McCracken County School Superintendent Nancy Waldrop, board attorney Gorman Bradley, as well as the schools systems head of security, Monday evening to discuss the threat, as well as the inability to adequately investigate the threat without the information that was needed from the Paducah Sun. Calls to the newspapers attorneys Monday night did not rectify the situation.
It was decided for the safety of the students, that school will be cancelled and the school will not be in session until the threat has been adequately investigated. The closure includes the Reidland Middle School only as an extra precaution due to the two school buildings being attached.
Sheriff's Officials have stated that efforts to obtain the much needed information from the Paducah Sun will continue.
Information provided by Jon Hayden (McCracken County Sheriff’s Department)
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